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The Brennan House Historic Home and Gardens


"Recently voted one of Louisville's top 10 favorite buildings by the Courier-Journal (Nov 14, 2004)."

The Collection

Although the Brennan family was not renowned locally or nationally while they were living, what they left behind now is. The Brennan House is significant as the last remaining private historic residence in the Central Business District of downtown Louisville. The architecture is Italianate and fairly typical for its time period. What is atypical about the Brennan House is it's collection. The contents of the Brennan House are entirely original to the Brennan family. From death masks of Thomas and Anna Brennan, linens and perfume bottles, to china and stemware, what the Brennans left behind was truly priceless. There are very few homes in the entire country that can boast such an original collection. Because the house is entirely furnished with original Brennan belongings, what the visitor experiences is a true moment in time. Some have called the Brennan House a time capsule, and it truly is.

Most of the Brennan family members were lovers of antiques. Thus the house represents the collection they amassed over the eighty-five years they occupied the home. Stylistically, furniture and interiors changed through the years, but the Brennan home remained virtually untouched by changing styles and fads. The home is filled with predominantly nineteenth century (mostly 1860s-1870s) furnishings and art objects. The Brennans lived through some of the biggest changes the world had ever experienced; such as the automobile, radio, television, electricity, etc. However, when one visits the home, it remains to be seen. Although always technologically stylish, the Brennan House does not display a modern sensibility. The home is old world European in appearance, and very little seems to be Southern or even Kentuckian in nature. With Irish and Scottish roots, the house pays homage to the Brennans European descent through its very diverse collection of antiques.

Some of the most splendid pieces of the collection are the Tiffany Studio lamp in the Library, the Centennial bedroom suite from 1876, and an extensive collection of silver, china, and crystal. Among the hundreds of small, more personal items in the home are original documents of certification, family photo albums created by Thomas Brennan, Sr., love letters, and memorabilia (such as show ribbons, engraved collars and leashes from old show dogs).

Centennial Bed Set
1871-1872 manufactured by J.W. Davis & Company Furniture Manufacturers exhibited at Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, 1876 receiving 1st prize and gold medal (this is uncertain). This massive Renaissance Revival set dominates the master bedroom and belonged to Thomas and Anna Brennan. It is possible that it was showcased at the Southern Exposition in Louisville in the 1880s. There have been no records found of the company J.W. Davis at the Philadelphia Exposition, and no proof of awards or prizes being given either. However, in a drawer of the Brennans was a piece of paper documenting the set as being shown at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876 and winning first prize there.

Several of the lighting fixtures at the Brennan House are dually compatible for gas and electric. In the parlor, there are also two cala lily design gas lamps protruding from the walls. These types of fixtures would have been original to the house, and later fixtures developed. Electric lights were installed/converted at the Brennan House at the turn of the century.

Tiffany Studios Chrysanthemum Lamp (1900-1919)
Located in the Doctor's office of the Brennan House is an original Tiffany Studio lamp. This leaded glass table lamp with patinated bronze base is most likely a creation of Tiffany Studios of New York. Louis Comfort Tiffany was the son of Charles Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company specializing in silver and jewelry. Louis studied painting as well as the other arts in Europe, but became interested in stained glass as an art form. Large quantities of glass that were leftover from larger projects were utilized to develop the stunningly original vases, lamps, and other small glass objects that are considered to be his greatest achievements. Tiffany Studios art glass lamps are an American version of Art Noveau. Tiffanys glasshouse used many flower from motifs, essentially taken from nature. The majority of the Tiffany lamp shades were designed by company artists under the direction of Clara Driscoll. This particular lamp base is a simple pedestal version without the typical naturalistic forms often found on Tiffany lamps. This lamp is a chrysanthemum design and contains green, yellow, and white colors.

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